A play by the women of Driefontein


Since the middle of the 1970’s, the government has tried to move the people of Driefontein and KwaNgema in the eastern Transvaal. The people do not want to move. They are happy right where they are.


The women of Driefontein have made a play to tell the world about their problems – and their struggle to keep their land. The play is called “Usizi Nezinhlupheko – The way we are suffering.”


The women brought their play to the Market Theatre in Johannesburg in April. Learn and Teach missed the play. But we heard all about it. And so we drove to Driefontein to meet the women – and to see the play.


The play starts with the women singing a church song:

“Nkosi Jesu uzungiKhumbule embusweni wakho, Jesus remember me in the kingdom of God, remember me, remember me in the Kingdom of God.”


They go to the magistrate at Wakkerstroom. The magistrate calls Piet who is the black clerk. He tells Piet to bring him somebody from Driefontein to help him move the people. Piet brings him somebody. The impimpi’s name is Msibi.


Some old women go to the magistrate’s office to ask for their pension. The magistrate sends them to Msibi. The magistrate says: “Gaan haal die briewe by Msibi en nie van Mkhize se mense.


Ek hou nie van hulle nie.” And then the magistrate says to the old women: “Hoekom trou julle nie? Jy is nog jong. Jy kan maar madala kry.”


The old women go to Msibi and ask for the letters. “Where are you from?” asks Msibi. “Are you from Mkhize’s group? So why do you come to me? I don’t need Mkhize’s group.” The women then sing: “Silusizi siyahlupheka kodwa akusenani usomandla ukhona.”


The women then go to Mr Maseko. He is a good man. He is the one who always takes them to the magistrate in Wakkerstroom. Maseko now takes them to a woman by the name of Aninka who is visiting Driefontein. Aninka is from the Black Sash in Johannesburg. She has helped the people of Driefontein for a long time. She gives the women a letter to take back to the magistrate In Wakkerstroom.


The women go back to the magistrate. “Ag nee,” he says. “Ek is moeg van hierdie mense van Driefontein. Se hulle moet inkom.” The women go in and the magistrate pays them their pension.

The women are happy and they sing a song in praise of the Black Sash. “Siyayidumisa siyayidumisa siyayidumisa yon’ iBlack Sash, Akekho Ofana nayo!”


The clerk at the magistrate’s office goes to the impimpi Msibi and tells him to arrange a meeting with the people of Driefontein. He wants to talk to the people about moving from Driefontein.


When the people come together, Msibi tells the people that the magistrate says that they must move from Driefontein. Before he can finish, most of the women shout. “Asihambi – we are not moving!” And a small group shout: “Siyahamba – we are going!” The women start fighting with each other.


Two of the women start a dance called “Ukhamba” and the women drink beer and sing: “Khulumela phansi kukhona izintatheli zizokuthathela – don’t talk loud. The impimpis can hear and take what you say.” The women are showing how they used to live before their problems. They had a good life – dancing, drinking and living in peace.

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